Friday, July 20, 2018

Oxford English Dictionary: Hobby Words

I received a note from Kate at the O.E.D.
(I am totally knocked out to get an email from the O.E.D.)

The O.E.D. (Oxford English Dictionary)
is the world-wide standard for English word use.

Kate says they are looking to social media to identify words having to do with various hobbies, including quilting---Our jargon.

Here's her note:

"Can you help the Oxford English Dictionary identify and record the words, phrases, and expressions unique to quilters and quilting? Words used by people when talking about a shared pastime can be little-known to outsiders, and are often interesting coinages with unique histories. As part of their hobby word appeal, Oxford English Dictionary editors [asked for] words and phrases unique to quilting. Of particular interest are slang words and phrases (as opposed to more technical terms) as these are much harder to trace in print and so are less likely to have come to the attention of dictionary editors."
I thought we could compile a list here in the comments. So do comment with suggestions. She said she is looking more for slang than for technical terms that she could find in books, magazines....

So "Quilting By Checkbook" rather than "HST" I guess.

Sir James Murray in his Scriptorium full of paper slips with word usage information.

There may be prizes from MOI for the best words or most ideas.

On the 23rd of July I'll send the list to Kate at https://public.oed.com/appeals/hobby-words/
Kate also says: Join the conversation on Twitter #hobbywords.
And while you are thinking up words watch the old Barbara Stanwyck/Gary Cooper movie Ball of Fire, about a project very much like this one. Lexicographers looking for slang hire burlesque dancer Sugarpuss O'Shea.  It's one of the great screwball comedies (if you don't mind stereotypical cliches about ethnicity, class, intellectuals and gender).

UPDATE: There are some excellent contributions in the comments. I'll leave them up there and people can continue to comment. Kate should probably check every couple of weeks.

Virginia wrote that she and her friends call ill-advised quilts Bagpipe Quilts because like bagpipes they have to be appreciated from a distance.
Trash Bag quilts---made from small pieces of fabric. Also  called extreme scrap quilting

Here are some I thought of for the Scriptorium

Tack---tie a quilt (goes back to the 19th c)
Ball cotton--- Perle Cotton, a twist
Big Stitch for a large quilting stitch done with Perle Cotton or some thick thread
Cheater cloth --- print simulating patchwork
EPP---for English Paper Piecing,  basting to paper shapes and then sewing. New acronym
Dogtooth border--- an appliqued triangular border
Fussy cut --- cutting the fabric template to feature an area of the fabric's print
Pin Basting --- preparing the quilt top for quilting by sandwiching back, batt and top and securing with safety pins
Glue Basting ---Preparing applique for sewing by turning fabric edges under and gluing them 
Needle Turn --- a form of applique in which the fabric is not basted under but turned under with the needle as the piece is stitched down.
Sleeve - a tube of fabric on the back of the quilt through which a rod is placed for display
Self Binding---not using any extra fabric to bind the edges but turning in the top and back
Self quilting --- quilting around each patch
Quilt by Checkbook---pay someone to quilt your top
Cheddar---a particular orange color that looks like safety yellow or American cheddar cheese
Lancaster blue ---a late 19th century blue on blue print popular in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Poison green - any green you don't like too much
Potholder quilt - newish term for old technique of quilting and binding each patchwork block and then joining the squares.
Neon print ---black background with bright colored figures
Panel - printed vignette, sometimes framed,  meant to be cut out and featured

I'll send them all to Kate and let you know any updates.


  1. WOMBAT--Waste of money, batting and time

  2. All EXCELLENT! And new to me (except UFO of which I am painfully aware.)

  3. Frog stitching. Removing stitches.

  4. Meant to say PIGS. Projects In Grocery Sacks.

  5. Revising my earlier comment: Frog stitching is sometimes used to describe the use of a seam ripper to remove stitches. It is a playful comparison of removing stitches (rip it, rip it) to the sound a frog makes (ribbit, ribbit).

  6. This is so cool! I love the OED, and have read several books about its compilation, most notably "Caught in the Web of Words," about James Murray, the author/compiler of the first edition; and "The Professor and the Madman," about a patient in an asylum who contributed over 10,000 words to the OED.
    Entries? "Block-of-the-Month." "Repro." I'll keep thinking.

  7. Stash is common to several hobbies as is frogging.

  8. "Fat quarter" itself, I've only heard it in quilting.

  9. I am going to think about this while I am in my studio today. Long arm is a good one as in "Do you have a long arm?" or "Did you quilt that on a long arm?" Improv and Modern Quilter might also qualify. These are slang, but they have specific meanings that the non-quilting world might not know. When I taught in China, they asked me to submit a transcript for the translator to go over. His biggest concern were the words that we use that are only part of our discourse community. Which makes total sense. I am going to repost this is a couple of places. It is super exciting that you were asked to do this Barbara!

  10. "fat quarter" and "fat eighth", I'be only heard that in quilting

    "strippy quilt" meaning a quilt eith a top made only of narrow strips of contrasting fabrics running the whe length of the quilt

    "rocking the needle" meaning pivoting the quilting needle ip and xiwn to load it with several stitches before drawing the thread through the quilt.

    "one patch" meaning not a si gle piece of fabric thst was quilted but a quilt top made entirely of blocks all the same shape.

    "whole cloth quilt" meaning not a quilt made with a top of a single piece of fabric, but a quilt top made of one or pieces all of the same fabric.

    "Wall quilt" -- a quilt smaller than a bed quilt specifically made to be displayed hanging on a wall.

    Sorry, this is so much fun, but I better quit now.

  11. This is fun!
    It looks like the stuffy old men are having 'fun' with Sugar Puss!
    I'll have to watch that movie tonight for some thrills, it is Friday after all!
    How about 'flimsy', you know, a finished top that hasn't been layered and
    quilted and bound yet.

  12. UFO

    (too) matchy-matchy strip piecing


    precuts: both "precut" by itself and all the variations: Jelly Roll, Bali Pops; Layer Cake, etc.

    stitch in the ditch


    knife edge

    rip, frog stitch, reverse sew



    birth a quilt

    rotary cutter, ruler, mat

  13. I'd suggest sending her the word "longarmer" in particular, which my computer always shrieks at me for using ... but we know what that means, right? And also "dog ears" and "bird's nest" (wad of thread), although I've heard other words for it, too.

  14. FART = fabric acquisition road trip 😁

  15. I saw a news story on local tv the other day highlighting a shop who had made it into a national magazine and the male journalist had quite a time naming things like BOM and repro fabrics. He was a little off on some of his definitions but it was nice to see a quilt shop in the news. This sounds like a nice opportunity, glad you are on the case!

  16. scant quarter inch, squaring up, charm quilt, repro/retro/modern quilting, scrappy, sew along, edge to edge, domestic machine

  17. Cool project! Leaders and enders, round robin. WIP (works in progress).

  18. love this...other than those already mentioned: quilt sandwich, EPP, charm squares, layer cake, jelly roll, jelly roll race, longarm, mid arm, pin baste, glue baste, quiltaholic, threadhead and bobbin buddies are nicknames for quilting friends,

    I'll let you know if i think of any more.

  19. I LOVE the WOMBAT one. My answer is Fabric Therapy.

  20. thought of another one: stack n wack

  21. tone-on-tone, abbreviated TOT

    white-on-what, abbreviated WOW

  22. Don't know if someone has already said this but I like . . . WIP - work in progress

  23. What about:

    1. Batted (past tense of to batt)

    2. Quilters Foot (the attachment on your machine)

  24. Wonky to denote not quite on center or correct. It seemed to spring up everywhere in the 80s, but Bonnie Hunter is the first one I heard use it. Her leader-ender might be another one. Other people sew off onto a scrap of fabric, and I've heard that called a sew-off or a thread catcher.

  25. Prepared edge applique - maybe this is too technical

    BOM - Block of the Month

    BAQ - Baltimore Album quilt

  26. Flimsy - finished, unquilted top

  27. Darn, I was going to say fussy cutting. How about design wall and the abbreviations SID and FMQ?

  28. Hmm, I suppose design wall is not specific to quilting. And WIP isn't either, by the way. I've seen it used in a factory.

  29. "Angly challenged". "Quilt Police".

  30. Coping strip - a small sashing usually added between pieced borders to allow the borders to fit without having to alter the size of the blocks.

  31. I can't add to any of this except that "frogging" is also used by knitters when they tear out their work.

  32. Hand - the feel of a particular fabric
    Thread keepers
    "A medallion" - a type of setting
    In the ditch
    Waves or waving
    Locking or nesting seams

  33. SABLE is one I like- stash above & beyond life expectancy
    e2e- edge to edge quilting
    on point settings
    load a quilt

    Anyone remember what the postcard quilts are called? I always have to think twice about that abbreviation.

  34. Has someone said "bonus triangles"?
    How about a "row robin" quilt?

  35. I don't know how widely it is used, but a "squishy" is a piece of mail containing fabric - eg block swaps or the like.

    "Baste" or "basting" for the act of sandwiching the quilt layers. And the various ways that can be done, eg "spray baste" or "pin baste".

    Even "sandwiching" might not have a quilt-related definition in the dictionary.

    "Foundation piecing".

  36. “stippling” -if I didn’t quilt, I might think that it was a drinking phrase like tipsy.

  37. wof width of fabric

    charm quilt no two pieces are the same fabric

    color way as in one color way

    stash as in the accumulation of fabric

    on point


    many of the block names in your books would be good such as hole in the barn door, tumbling block and lone star

    red work and blue work

    English paper piecing is not piecing paper

    paper piecing sewing on the paper with the pattern

    y seam

    rotary cutter

    strip pieced as in sewing two long strips together and then cutting them

    popping the knot when hand quilting

    quilters knot wrapping thread around the needle and pulling the needle to make a knot

    raw edge applique

    echo quilting

  38. WOF: Width of Fabric
    BOW-Block of the Week
    BOM: Block of the Month
    jelly rolls, charm packs,bali pops..all specific to each fabric company
    RST-right sides together

  39. shirting, shirting print

    conversation print

    ditzy print

    row quilt, row-by-row quilt, Row Quilt Experience

    Flying Geese

    Log Cabin

    and there are probably lots of block, quilting and quilt style names, too

  40. Knowledge is very interesting information. Thanks for the knowledge.


  41. HST (half square triangle), hand-dyed fabric, commercial fabric, ruler foot, ruler work, free-hand quilted, matchstick quilting, pounce, pin baste, bearding, partial seam.

  42. eye candy
    layer cakes
    jelly rolls
    trip around the world
    strip quilting
    string piecing
    needle turn
    organic quilting
    quilt police
    traditional quilt
    improv quilt
    art quilt
    journal quilt
    ATC - artist trading card
    modern quilting
    low volume quilts - made mostly with lighter colors
    crazy quilt
    sharp points
    envelope method of finishing - where you turn a quilt right side out instead of binding

  43. flip and stitch: position strips, sew a seam, flip the strip right side up, and then add another.

    string quilt(ing) : sew strips--usually narrow, but not all the same width-- freeform or on a foundation, using flip and stitch technique. One common design: sewing strips of various narrow widths to a square on the diagonal, starting with a center strip sewn from corner to corner.

    foundation: paper or muslin in the shape of the block--strips or pieces are sewn onto a foundation , to make the sewing more accurate or to stabilize the pieces of a block

    These are great lists, some of which need definitions! That's the hard part, as I've just found. The OED is a dictionary, after all.

  44. Coming up with a slang quilt phrase isn't easy, since many of them apply to other needle arts or are technical terms, not slang.

    What about: Quilt Sandwich

  45. Jan-I noticed that some didn't give definitions. We all know what it means.

    I'll forward the lists and if they need definitions I guess I can come up with most.

    And Becky - technical versus slang... They get to decide.

  46. Local to some areas of Southwestern PA: to "put in" a quilt is to put it in the frame so you can begin quilting it. And "hap" is a quilt that is knotted or tied (not quilted) also called a comforter. (Hap is also a Scots word meaning "to wrap, as in a blanket"...wonder if there is a connection.)

  47. Did anyone say 'Flimsy' for a finished top, not yet quilted?

  48. Summer Throw - a finished quit top that has not been layered
    Sewist - a person who sews. Better than the word sewer which doubles as a pipe that carries waste
    a Finish - a project that has been completed

  49. Toe catcher - an especially long stitch when hand quilting, as in you could catch your toe in the stitch while sleeping.

    Foundation Paper Piecing - sewing on a lined paper pattern for accuracy, often very intricate

    Summer Quilt - a quilt top and backing fabric joined together without the traditional middle layer of batting, to be used in hot southern states to keep from melting during the steamy nights.

    Thread basting - basting a quilt with thread in order to hand quilt the three layers together.

    Friendly Quilt - .a quilt that does not hang straight, but hangs wavy when hung, such as in a quilt show

    Quilting Hoop - a thick, sturdy, round, usually wooden hoop, used to hold the three, basted layers of a quilt together while hand quilting.

    Quilting Hoop Stand - a stand holding a thick, sturdy, usually wooden quilting hoop, so that the hoop can be turned 360 degrees for ease of hand quilting.

  50. Frog stitch - to rip it, rip it...out

  51. Don't forget Shop Hop! Row by Row, On Point, ...
    LQS: Local Quilt Shop
    WOW: Width Of Fabric
    TGIF: Thank Goodness It's Finished!
    QAYG: Quilt As You Go
    FOB: Fear Of Binding
    SEX: Stash Enhancing Experience

  52. Is it too late? Did not see Chain Piecing.

  53. Scrap Vomit- using any and every color and type of pattern without regard to aesthetics.